It’s National Consumer week. A good time to ask “Why Complain?”
Because it’s fun! Well it is. Nothing the British like more than a good complain. Or is it a moan? Well there’s the difference I feel. Complaining effectively gets results and it is about consumer rights. Your rights as a consumer.
The other week someone was in the Daily Fail and on a few radio stations talking about complaining and getting results. Good on her. But you know what? On the Daily Fail article, lots of people had posted that she should “get a life” and other similar insults along the lines of having nothing better to do. Now, there are two fundamental issues here. 1) To the people who say she should get a life (and presumably people like her?) do you have nothing better to do than post insults on the Internet? Touche! You get nothing from that except perhaps some perverted satisfaction. 2) In the time you took to write that she/I/ and probably many others sent an email or tweeted a company to complain about something and got redress. Now who is wasting their time I wonder?
I don’t waste time looking for things to complain about. I don’t waste time complaining about trivial things (oh ok sometimes just for a laugh but rarely) and I don’t make up complaints. So don’t accuse me of doing so. What I do do, is if a company has wasted my time, I complain about it and gain redress so my time is paid for. If I purchase something that is faulty I complain about it and I assert my legal rights. Often this means NOT accepting a replacement but getting my money back.
So, to those of you who accuse the complainers of wasting their life, making things up and only after freebies I ask you these questions.
1) If you have a bad meal do you just accept it? You do? FOOL. You legally don’t have to accept it. Rather than causing a scene or complaining in writing later you think just putting it down to bad luck makes you better than the complainer? Really? I complain – I get a voucher and I go back. Win win situation for restaurant and me. Your way, you don’t go back, lose lose or is that just “LOSER”?!
2) If you buy something faulty do you keep it? WHY?! Do you take it back and get a replacement when you don’t trust the product any more and you’d like to buy a different one but you accept it because you don’t want to assert your legal rights or perhaps you don’t know them? I buy something faulty I get my money back, buy what I want and get redress on top if I have been inconvenienced in anyway or if anything else has been damaged in the process of using the item. How is that wasting my time or not having a life? I ‘ve improved it. You are stuck with something you don’t want.
3) You say you don’t have time to complain? No, I don’t really, but that’s why I claim for my time. Simples.
Only once have I ever thought I would rather not have had to complain. I let out my flat and about 3 years ago a washing machine leaked in the flat above. Twice! My tenant was basically without a usable kitchen for 18 months. I was lucky he didn’t leave. AVIVA staff were appalling as were the contractors to do the work. The printed off email correspondence was over an inch thick. I think I’d still be getting the work done now if I hadn’t had to complain nearly every day. I did get about £800 and I have no idea what that works out as an hourly rate, but even I would rather have just had good service!
Still want to insult the complainers? Need more convincing?
4) Don’t you want to improve things for other people? Are you selfish? Many of my complaints have resulted in companies changing policies, the way they do things, retraining staff etc. That improves service to all. I am undertaking a public service I feel! Look at what Chris has achieved through his dreadful experience. Three years on and at last Scottish Provident is making changes. He continued his complaining even after eventually receiving redress. If you use life cover in the future with any company, you look at that article and thank him!
There are more examples of how complaining and spreading the word helps too!
5) Are you a man/woman of principle? Look at my taking Tesco to court. Now, some people think it was a poor return for the money. It was the principle of the thing!! They took my money! In fact the legal process was very quick, it was trying to sort it before that took the time! I’ve had lots of people say they had problems with the Tesco vouchers and they just let it go. Hopefully now, after raising the profile of consumer power people will come to me if it happens again this Christmas. Then, I’ll put the case together and they can all go as one case, time saved, money back. I wonder just how many people lost money last year and didn’t complain? Do you think that’s right? It’s okay for a large company to make money from people who can’t won’t complain? I flipping well don’t and you can call me all the names under the sun, I think I was right to do what I did.
Then there’s the hobby…
6) I won’t deny it, it’s fun! When I’m doing the actual complaining I’m frequently quite annoyed (hence as in my tips I rarely doing it in person) but I know I’ll get redress, often it’s of interest guesstimating how much I will get and whether I will be complaining again about their reply. So, call it a hobby, just like writing up my complaints on here is,(which incidentally is sharing experience and advice so helps people!) like any blog writer. So, a hobby. Do you have a hobby? My hobby takes up a little time and costs me no money. I don’t do sport, it avoids sporting injuries. But I don’t have a go at people for their hobbies so don’t have a go at me for mine I say!
Still think I’m the fool for complaining?
7) Would you want people to have poor NHS care? My father was in hospital for 6 weeks just over two years ago before he died. The treatment he received was appalling. I didn’t want any family to go through what we did or any patient to endure what he did. At times like that people don’t want to complain. That is understandable and I get that, but I wanted to change things for other people. This wasn’t about asserting legal rights, getting money or anything like that. It was about making change happen. I wrote 8 pages of 48 bullet points about his care and a 2 page letter to go with the log. I received back a 7 page letter. This is copied from the letter they sent:
“In conclusion the following will or has been addressed:
Share the complaint with the ward
Review how pain control is managed including training
Arrange training on oral care
Ensure staff know the procedure on escalation if patient dependency is higher than staffing levels can manage
The requirement to inform relatives if a patient falls
Ensure staff work with patients/relatives to complete adult assessment forms
Improve communication on the ward”
Often people say all they want is an apology. That is very true and we got a lot of sincere apologies in that letter too.
So, complainers don’t have a life, are sad, have too much time on their hands? You remember that when you have your bad meal, had to fork out for a bad service, are stuck with a faulty item and you are out of pocket for something. You remember that when you are able to get a decent life cover policy. You remember that when your Tesco vouchers work this year. You remember that when you have an elderly relative in a hospital in Somerset where the care was good. Perhaps it was because someone took the time to tell the powers that be of problems that they didn’t know about so they could put them right.
So, who still thinks they are better for not complaining? Would love to hear your reasons for not doing any of the above that I and people like me have done. I love a good argument. Provide a good argument for not complaining in the way I do and I’ll publish it. (But don’t think I won’t argue with you!) Alternatively, join in sharing your successes, that’s what I like to see!